Joy

He was a very serious, very earnest and very conscientious dope. It was impossible to go to a movie with him without getting involved afterwards in a discussion on empathy, Aristotle, universals, messages and the obligations of the cinema as an art form in a materialistic society. He was a militant idealist who crusaded against racial bigotry by growing faint in its presence. He knew everything about literature except how to enjoy it.

Joseph Heller – Catch 22

The Powerlessness of Words

GorgiaszFor how could any one communicate by word of mounth that he has seen? And how could that which has been seen be identical to a listener if he has not seen it? He who speaks, speaks, but does not speak a color or a thing. When, therefore, one has not a thing in the mind, how will he get it there from another person by word or any other token of the thing except by seeing it, if it is a color, or hearing it, if it is a noise? For he who speaks does not speak a noise at all, or a color, but a word.

But even if it is possible to know things, and to express whatever one knows in words, yet how can the hearer have in his mind the same thing as the speaker? For the same thing cannot be present simultaneously in several separate people; for in that case the one would be two.

But if the same thing could be present in several persons, there is no reason why it should not appear dissimilar to them, if they are not themselves entirely similar and are not in the same place; for if they were in the same place they would be one and not two. So a man can scarcely perceive the same thing as someone else.

Gorgias

Water

I’m a slightly under the influence of Taoism, which says that we need to act like water. Do not make any effort, take life calmly. Everything that man does, so just ends. With the ultimate paralysis. This is the humanity, the tragedy of history. Everything man undertakes ends up as the opposite of what he planned. There is an ironic sense in any history.

There will be a moment that a man will become the exact opposite of everything what he wanted to be. He will see it all too clearly. Emptiness similar to boredom – is not the European experience. This is something Oriental. The emptiness as something positive. Teaching us how to recover from everything.

Emil Cioran – Interviews

Success of Solipsism

Thinkers obsessed with a vision of monistic order, who are trying to reduce all kinds of human behavior, all thoughts and all responses to one type of motivation, invariably succeed.

We can, for example, decide that human self-affirmation in their significance (“the will to power”, the pursuit of excellence, etc.) is the basic impulse which dominates all patterns of behavior, including sexual; we can also carry out the reduction in quite a different direction… There are no such facts imaginable (not to mention actually known) that could ever make a stubborn monist not to be right, no matter how he determines his fundamental principle of explanation.

Monistic reductions are always successful and convincing: Hegelian, Freudian, Marxist, Adlerian – each of which is resistant to allegations, while consistently closed in its dogma, and not trying to make any concessions in favor of common sense; its explanatory mechanism can function indefinitely. This also applies to the vicissitudes of myths, symbols, rituals and religious beliefs.

Leszek Kolakowski

Perfect Knowledge

Buddha had once said: “The things, Oh Sariputra, they do not exist as they seem to the ordinary unenlightened people, who are attached to them.” Sariputra said, “So how do things exist, my Master?” Buddha replied: “They exist only in such a way that they actually do not exist. As they do not exist, they should be called Avidyā, which means non-existent. It is them that the ordinary unenlightened people are attached to, who imagine that objects in fact exist, while none of them are existent.”

Then Buddha asked the Venerable Subhuti: “Do you think Subhuti that illusion is one thing and body another? Is illusion one thing and feeling another? Idea another? Shape another? Knowledge another?” Subhuti replied: “No, my Master.” Then Buddha said: “The nature of illusion makes things what they are. This is done in such a way, Oh Subhuti, as if a skillful wizzard or wizard’s apprentice pointed at crowds of people at the crossroads and, upon showing them, made them disappear again.”

Prajñāpāramitā (Perfect knowledge)

Fear: Laws, Gods

SextusThere was a time when the life of men was without order and like that of the beasts, subject to the rule of strength, an there was no reward for the good or any punishment for evil men. And then, I think, men set up laws for punishment, so the justice would rule and violence would be her slave. And if someone were to do wrong they would be punished. Then, since the laws prevented them from doing violent deeds openly, they continued to do them in secret.

I think that then some sound and clever-minded man invented fear of the gods for mortals, so that evil people would have some fear, even if they were acting or saying or thinking something in secret. Thereupon he introduced the divine being, saying: “There is a divinity, endowed with eternal life, who with his mind hears and sees and understands and attends to these things, bearing a divine nature, who will hear everything that is said amongst mortals, and be able to see everything that is done. If ever you plan some evil in silence, you will not escape the notice of the gods. For they are able to keep that in mind.”

Speaking these words, he introduced the most pleasant of lessons, concealing the truth with false speaking. He then claimed that the gods lived where he would terrify people the most. He knew the origins of mortals’ fears as well as benefits for their wretched life: from the revolving sky above, where they knew there was lightning and there were terrible rumblings of thunder. Around mortals he set up such fears, through which this man, by his words, nobly established the divinity in an auspicious spot, and he extinguished lawlessness with laws. Thus, I think, someone first persuaded mortals to believe that there is a race of gods.

Critias, Sextus Empiricus